If you've never read the essay "Man Of Steel, Woman Of Kleenex," you're missing out on one of the most immaturely mature thought pieces ever written about the world of the superhero. The basic ideas were purloined for a memorable scene in Kevin Smith's Mallrats, but the topic had been bandied about for decades -- how could Superman, with his Kryptonian physiology, ever make love to a human woman? Wouldn't his ejaculate simply destroy her?

Written by Larry Niven in 1969, the essay is pretty thought-provoking and worth a look. As with all speculative fiction, and Internet message boards, we can offer up all kinds of explanations and instances where this would happen or that would happen -- a current favorite of Superman fans is to say he could use his Super Flare ability, render himself inert, and bang like a screen door for 24 hours or so. And that's fine. You can give him Kryptonite condoms or magical spermicide too; it doesn't matter -- it's just make-believe. But man, in those make-believe worlds, you have to admit, there would be some weird and terrible sex going on if we take these characters at face value.

The Thing

The Creepy Downside Of Sex With 6 Superheroes
Marvel Comics

Ben Grimm got the shit end of the Fantastic stick when it comes to powers. Of a four-person team, he's the only one who came out looking like a turd rolled in walnuts, while the rest of his team can blend into polite society any time they please. Sure, he's super strong and nearly invulnerable, but what good is that if every time you try to jack off you just make a handful of gravel?

It stands to reason that the cosmic radiation that made The Thing's body into an old country road probably didn't tactfully or thoughtfully avoid his junk. There's no stony flap in his drawers that he can push aside to get out Lil' Grimmy and please the ladies, or even pee properly. The internal logic of the Fantastic Four dictates Ben Grimm has a stone dick. And hey, that's cool; archaeological evidence indicates our ancestors used stone dildos. There's probably a neighborhood out there in time and space where Ben will fit right in.

Marvel Comics

If you know what I mean ...

Early on in the comics, and also in the terrible first movie if your subconscious hasn't scoured the memory of it clean just yet, you'll find that Grimm still has a romantic interest with, of course, a blind woman. Because a woman who can't see is somehow more OK with a man made of stone than one who can. But it's not the inability to see what Grimm looks like that impedes their relationship; it's the fact that he's clearly made of irregularly shaped rocky plates. His fingers look like tiny, shitty inukshuks, and you know his wang is no different, which means any woman bold enough to try to bone him is probably going to be chafed in a medically unsound and terrifying fashion.


The Creepy Downside Of Sex With 6 Superheroes
Valiant Comics

You may not be familiar with Valiant's Bloodshot, but you should check him out. His new series, Bloodshot Reborn, just started, and it's phenomenally written by Jeff Lemire. And he's going to be getting a movie in the not-too-distant future, so you may as well brush up.

As far as a crash course in the character goes, Bloodshot was created to be a kind of super soldier, and that involved injecting him with millions of little silicon-based nanocomputers that make him nearly immortal. You shoot the dude through the head, the little nanites will rebuild him, brain and all. The downside is he has no memory of who he really is and the people who made him are kind of nefarious, but such is the life of a superhero.

SAE cTO 10L TO -3
Valiant Comics

"I can't even tell if I'm actually Catholic or just heal that way."

Those nanites that make Bloodshot so cool are also his potential downfall, insofar as they're in the man's bloodstream, which basically makes them the same as, say, AIDS. He has robo-AIDS. If he swaps fluids with a lady friend, she's going to get those nanites in her, and one of two things will happen -- either they start reproducing in her and spreading the Bloodshot powers around like an STD, or they're just supposed to be for one Bloodshot, in which case they'd potentially recognize every molecule of this other person as a foreign invader and try to kill her from the inside out.

Carl Grimes

The Creepy Downside Of Sex With 6 Superheroes
Image Comics

You have to bear with me on this one. For those who don't already know: The Walking Dead TV series is based on the Image comic of the same name, which you totally should read because it's superb. But even if you've only seen the show, that'll mostly do for now. The show kind of screws up the point I'm trying to make, but whatever. Just imagine Carl. Poor, little Carl with his hat and his gun in the goddamn zombie apocalypse. The world is over. It's not going to come back. There's not going to be a cure or a reset or anything. The best thing Carl can hope for in life is that he and the few people who have survived the apocalypse so far don't get eaten. Try to put yourself in that headspace, where your chief daily concern is being eaten by someone.

So in the comics -- and maybe don't read this if you don't like mild, probably-not-related-to-the-show spoilers -- Carl and crew find a place to stay and years literally pass. Carl is in his teens, and as any teenager is wont to do, he goes hunting for some tang. Well, maybe not that aggressively, but he does have an interest in girls and he even starts a relationship with a character named Lydia. Sounds great, right? Except no. Gross.

Image Comics


Lydia is a Whisperer, a person who wears the skin of zombies so they can roam among them. Carl bangs a girl who wears flesh suits. Routinely. There's nothing good or normal or sexy about any of this. And that's literally the best he can do. He lives in a world where the lack of interesting women in his age range forces him to pursue a relationship with a girl who wears people suits.


The Creepy Downside Of Sex With 6 Superheroes
Marvel Comics

Man-Thing has a lot of things stacked against him in life, not the least of which is that he's a walking heap of swamp trash. But even that isn't insurmountable when you consider Swamp Thing once got to have sex with Heather Locklear.

The difference between Swamp Thing and Man-Thing is more than just a hyphen, insofar as Man-Thing is more thing than man. He doesn't have all the brain power he used to when he was a scientist, and he's also stuck with the pain-in-the-ass power of corrosively reacting to negative emotion. So even if he did have all his faculties about him, which has happened once or twice in the comics, he'd still be screwed trying to get screwed, since he'll just burn anyone who's afraid of him, a reaction you sort of can't help but have when confronted by walking gator turds mixed with lily pads and twigs.

The Creepy Downside Of Sex With 6 Superheroes
Marvel Comics

"And those that don't burn at my touch, will at my chlamydia."

Arguably, Man-Thing stays in the swamp due to the fact he's powered by a creepy science serum and the magical forces of some universal nexus, but also because his swamp boner just can't handle prolonged exposure to the outside world. Imagine the hell you'd feel if you had to team up with Black Widow or Psylocke and just touching one of them would mean they'd have to get plastic surgery to fix your hand print. That's a burden no hero should bear.


Marvel Comics

Back in the 1990s, the X-Men were Marvel's unstoppable juggernaut, even more so than the Marvel character the Juggernaut. X was king, unlike now in the post-Avengers world where Marvel seems to want to disavow all knowledge of the book, at least from a marketing standpoint. The X-Men were so popular that, at one point, Marvel was publishing The X-Men, The Uncanny X-Men, Excalibur, X-Force, X-Factor, and Generation X every single month. And it's that last one where shit really got weird.

Generation X was meant to be the hip, cool new X-team for those Gen-Xers, hence the clever name. How cool was Generation X? Oh man, watch this. It's an hour and a half long, but every minute is more precious than the one before it:

So maybe hip, cool X-Men can't exist on a $30 budget, but the idea was there. Among the mutants for this new team was Angelo Espinosa, aka Skin, a mutant who just has a lot of extra skin. Like six feet of extra skin that he could manipulate octopus-style to grab things or wrap things up.

I don't want to start getting gross, but the fact is this dude probably had more foreskin than wang. Like a full-on, stretched-out, turtleneck of a dong, one he could probably use to pick things up or dial the phone.

The Creepy Downside Of Sex With 6 Superheroes
Marvel Comics

"On a humid day, I can use my sack as a hot air balloon."

Unlike in the awesome movie, comic book Skin didn't have the ability to look normal when his power wasn't in use. His skin just hung off him in folds, making him look like a flappy, bald Shar Pei all the time. With all that extra skin, unless he managed to brace his dong with a popsicle stick or got the world's most powerful Viagra, odds are he's got a perma-floppy going on that can't be overcome. It's just simple biology; you can't slip a limp noodle into anything, even if it's only limp because someone stapled an excess of creepy loose folds onto it.


The Creepy Downside Of Sex With 6 Superheroes
Marvel Comics

In recent years, the X-Man Rogue managed to get some control over her mutant power, but for a long time she was basically relegated to leper status among the world of superheroes, because touching her meant losing your powers, your memory, and possibly your life. It was a mixed bag of shitty surprises if Rogue high-fived you.

Being a female character, Rogue's sexuality was of course covered at some point in comics, because no one gives a damn if anyone wants to hump Beast, but they do care if the girl in the skin-tight yellow and green catsuit gets busy. For many years, her relationship with Channing Gambit was a bit of a sticky wicket, since they could maybe bump a single ugly before they'd have to go their separate ways and take a nap.

Marvel Comics

"Merde, she didn't even LeBeau my Remy."

While Rogue's power causes obvious issues, and even in the first X-Men movie we get a scene of her kissing a boy and giving him varicose veins to prove just what a shitty date she is, not a lot of the downsides are ever explored. Sure, she'd feel bad for almost killing a dude, but consider that she also basically becomes, mentally, the person she touches, even if only for a short time. She doesn't just get into their head, their head becomes her head -- not just mutant powers but their very psyche and personality. So anyone she wants to sex ends up, psychologically, boning themselves. Who the hell wants that? Her only successful sexual encounters would be with narcissists.

Rogue also gains the memories of the people she touches, so while you're probably OK with everything you've done in your life at this point, it all becomes the movie she just watched before the two of you take your pants off together, so everyone you ever had sex with and any time you cheated on your taxes or maybe pooped in the laundry sink is all front-and-center for her right at your most intimate moment together. If that's not a mood killer, then nothing is. The very idea that Rogue could ever have sex with anyone without cutting her powers off completely is one of the most far-fetched aspects of the entire X universe.

For more from Felix, check out 4 Reasons Your Employer Doesn't Care If You're Happy Or Not and 4 Badass Works Of Art That Shouldn't Exist.

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